Music at Punahou includes a variety of course offerings through curricular and co-curricular programs. Younger students focus on basic elements of music while older students acquire the knowledge to perform, create and analyze music on a deeper level.

Music is an important part of each student's Punahou education and experience. Through music, students develop and enhance their creativity and appreciation of the arts. Music at Punahou has received national recognition for excellence in performance, diversity and integration.

Co-curricular music classes are open to the public, as well as Punahou students.

Curricular Music

Music is required of all students, Kindergarten – grade 12. The music curriculum allows students to participate in a variety of music experiences: making music through singing, playing instruments, creating, moving, listening and analyzing, reading and writing music in notation, exploring the music of many cultures and making music through technology. Class and grade level performances occur regularly, which celebrate special seasons or as a joint effort with classroom teachers or chaplains.

In kindergarten, music begins with the classroom teacher and progresses to activities that engage increasingly complex skills, with the guidance of a music specialist. Through grade 6, music is taught as a special class by a music teacher.

Beginning in grade 5, the opportunity is available to take beginning group instruction in all wind, string and percussion instruments, as well as sing in the choir.

In grades 7 and 8, students can choose from choir, orchestra and band based on interest on a beginning, intermediate or advanced musical ability. This is the first concentrated study of music literature of various periods and styles. Several concerts are presented during the school year. For seventh- and eighth-graders not involved with one of the above musical groups, a class in music exploration is required.

In the Academy, students must earn two credits in performing arts courses in order to graduate. Beginning in grade 9, students may fulfill these requirements through participation in music performance classes or in Music Theory, Music History or Perspectives in the Arts. Concerts and other performances periodically culminate their classwork and demonstrate their developing skills, knowledge and understanding.

See Academy Course Listing for Music 

The large numbers of students enrolled in elective music classes and the large numbers of students involved in music on a daily basis in elementary classes are an affirmation of the value placed on music education at Punahou.

Co-Curricular (Punahou Music School)

Punahou Music School offers students experience in music as an integral part of human expression through instruction that inspires participation, independence, and life-long love and learning of music. The Music School faculty shares knowledge, skills and attitudes that lead to musical achievement, which are transferable to other aspects of life.

Punahou Music School provides specialized music instruction for Punahou students, as well as students from the community. We offer private and group lessons for all ages, from preschool to adults.

Through active partnerships with local universities and music organizations, Punahou Music School shares educational leadership, resources and opportunities that help to enrich the local music community for students, parents and teachers.

Punahou Music School

Private Instruction

Individual music instruction is offered in 30-, 45- or 60-minute appointments for 16 weeks each semester. Private lessons may be scheduled after school, during lunch, study hall, scheduled breaks or on Saturdays, depending on the teacher's schedule and the student's grade level and availability. Studio assignments for new students will be determined by the director. Lesson appointments for all students will be scheduled directly by the assigned instructor.

Group Instruction/Classes

Group instruction is available for beginning piano, Suzuki violin, as well as voice. Additional group classes in music theory/composition and chamber music ensembles are designed to supplement students' private lessons.

Course Listings and Registration

To register your child for private or group instruction, opportunities exist within Punahou's After School and Summer School programs. For additional course information and registration policies, please refer to the After School and Summer School catalogs.

Instrument / Area of Study Private Group
Baritone / Euphonia / Tuba Yes
Bass/Electric Bass
Cello Yes
Chamber Music Ensemble
Children's Choir   Yes
Clarinet Yes  
Flute Yes  
French Horn Yes  
Guitar Yes Yes
Harp Yes  
Music Theory / Composition Yes
Oboe Yes  
Percussion Yes  
Piano Yes Yes
Saxophone Yes  
Shakuhachi Yes  
Trombone Yes  
Trumpet Yes  
Viola Yes
Violin (Traditional and Suzuki) Yes Yes
Voice Yes Yes


Music School Office
Montague Hall
808.944.5829 Tel
Hours: M – F, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Music School Administration


Helen Chao-Casano
Director, Music School


Wendy Shimamoto
Music School Administrative Assistant
808.944.5829 Tel